Ways to make better use of lampposts and bus shelters for hosting 5G antennas are being explored to boost the next-generation rollout.
The Government has launched a £4 million competition to find ideas that could make it easier for network providers to attach their 5G radio kit on to publicly-owned buildings and curbside infrastructure, such as CCTV poles and traffic signals.
At present, obtaining the information firms need to find suitable structures is complicated but it is hoped a new system could allow local councils to easily share potential spots that can be taken advantage of by mobile companies.
“Mobile networks are critical to the UK’s economic recovery yet deploying infrastructure on public assets has often proved difficult,” said Hamish MacLeod, director of the Mobile UK industry body.
“We welcome this competition aimed at breaking down these barriers and accelerating investment in 5G by piloting new digital platforms that bring together public bodies and mobile operators to make public-owned infrastructure more easily accessible.”
It comes amid a range of efforts to improve connectivity being considered, including allowing broadband providers access to more than a million kilometres of underground utility ducts running along electricity, gas and sewer networks.
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said the move not only has the potential to accelerate the rollout of 5G but also reduce the need to build new masts.
“We are investing millions to help local councils and mobile companies work together more effectively to bring people the incredible benefits of faster connectivity as we level up the UK,” he said.